today’s obituaries

July 25, 2006

Peter Townsend was a sinophile journalist whose time in China was spent
learning several Chinese dialects as well as a how to eat poached eggs with
chopsticks. “An heroic drinker (and smoker), Townsend used first the Museum
Tavern and then The Plough in Museum Street as extensions of his ramshackle office, turning them into essential meeting places for indigenous artists and critics as well as those, mostly Americans and Germans, passing through. When the pub closed for the afternoon he would migrate to the bar of the Kingsley Hotel where, after giving the waiter a fictitious room number, he was able to drink all day. (The arrival of a new waiter signalled the end of the arrangement. His response to the number was, “Sorry, sir, you’ve hit a bathroom.”

Spare a thought for the unfortunate (and late lamented) Viscount Cobham, a shy man whose conversations were peppered with cricket metaphors and whose only claim to fame was that his wife ran off with David Mellor with only a few minutes’ warning.. I wonder what metaphor he used for that? He did. however, observe that cheating at cricket was worse than adultery.


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